From void into vision, from vision to mind, from mind into speech, from speech to the tribe, from the tribe into din.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Net Zero Energy Now

Over the last few years, I’ve been collecting links on zero net energy buildings and communities (archived at, systems which produce at least as much energy as they consume.   There are now net zero energy buildings operating from skyscraper scale down to low income single family homes and both the EU and CA are phasing in net zero building standards between 2017 - 2030 and beyond.  My city, Cambridge, MA, has a zero net emissions policy in place and many communities are considering net zero standards, ideas, and developments as well.   

Net positive buildings are also coming on like gangbusters and there is a German village that produces five times the energy it needs through renewables.  Please note that this article about it is from 2013 and the state of the art has moved on since then.

Another example are these net positive townhouses in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston

Net zero energy is not just for new buildings as well.  A retrofit home in Whatcom County, Washington produces twice the energy it now consumes.  In this area, the solar insolation is 3.5 - 3.0 kWh/square meter/day.  Germany, with that 500% net positive village, has an average solar insolation (or irradiance) of 2.9 kWh/square meter/day.

It’s not just one-at-a-time as construction companies like Sekisui Heim of Japan builds "zero-utility cost" houses and has constructed over 160,000 units with "solar generation systems"

Buildings can achieve net zero almost anywhere in the world.  Here’s information on the Northernmost net positive energy office building (so far):

The Southernmost is the Princess Elisabeth Station in Antarctica

From pole to pole, in most building types, as eco-districts and net zero cities, Net Zero Energy Vermont focuses on making Vermont the first zero energy state

I also collect links on City Agriculture (archived at and have found that urban agriculture and net zero energy buildings are merging. 
Daniel Libeskind, the “starchitect,” has designed both net zero energy buildings
and vertical gardens

This synergetic trend is only going to continue and speed up, expanding to include buildings that not only produce as much energy as they consume or more while feeding the local population and even improving the air.
Agora Gardens in Taipei - a green building that absorbs CO2
Net zero energy buildings like trees:  Oas1s

The poet Lew Welch wrote, "We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls by, not seeing you at all.”  We have the tools at hand to change our energy and economic system radically, quickly if we want to take them up and make that little hop to one side or the other.